"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Thursday, October 12, 2017

ReedALOUD: The Only Fish in the Sea

Sadie is back! For those of you who loved Special Delivery as much as we did, you, too, are excited by this news!

But I'm not the only one delivering news. Sadie's friend Sherman has some news of his own:

"Hey, Sadie! Did you hear about little Amy Scott? About how she got a goldfish for her birthday and then she said, "Goldfish are boring!"

Not only that, Sherman explains how Little Amy Scott dropped that fish in the ocean with no care at all.  

Philip C. Stead and Matthew Cordell do not disappoint in the new adventure for Sadie. I read The Only Fish in the Sea with my second graders on Wednesday and had so much fun, I turned around and read it with my first graders on Thursday. I used my document camera to project the book on the screen allowing students to fully appreciate the details and storyline in the art. 

If you can, lift that dust jacket because we have another incredible example of wonderful case art. So much here to explore and revisit after reading the book.

Not only is this a fabulously fun read aloud, The Only Fish in the Sea lends itself to conversations about how writers and artists work to "show don't tell" how their characters are feeling, what their characters are doing, or where the story is taking place. There's so much to love about Philip Steads' narrative and Matthew Cordell's art. 

Philip Stead presents this story in dialog giving it an immediacy and intimacy. We readers feel close to these two special friends and bond with them during their quest. Stead's dialog shows Sherman's concern and Sadie's determination to save Ellsworth. There's also something more, which I will get to at the end.  

Let's talk about how Matthew Cordell chose to illustrate the dialog in this book. Matthew Cordell's art frolics and strides across the page with the energy young Sadie brings to her latest adventure: saving a goldfish carelessly tossed into the ocean by an unkind little girl. 
This book had me from the outset. I am taken with the urgency in these breathless clouds of language. This is big news! Sherman has huffed it over to Sadie to share what Little Amy Scott has done. I also am completely enamored with how Matthew Cordell shows how our stories paint pictures for others. There's Sadie looking up at what Sherman has just described.
And again, Sadie even removes her glasses to see and understand more fully what Sherman is saying. Students often hear how they should show not tell in their writing. Authors and illustrators along with their teachers and I will give examples of this. 
While reading the book, I zoomed in on Sadie and asked the children how she was feeling. They understood fully that she was upset. I then modeled saying the words while strolling across the library with my arms at my side and then striding across the library gesticulating with my arms. Crystal clear. Enough said.
Sadie grows attached to the goldfish right away and takes on his plight. We know she's attached because she gives him a name, a proper name. 

We interrupt the story for a peak at some of the proper names my students would give a fish!

Back to our story! 

I haven't mentioned this but the banana-wielding bandit monkeys are back and, of course, imparting their own humorous story line. Sadie would not have been able to accomplish her task without their help (turns out those bananas are a trading commodity). 
While they are gathering supplies, we get another taste of Little Amy Scott's personality. She is just not a kind person. And once again, look at Sadie - head down, focused and determined. 

Maybe you are noticing the balloons that they are all gathering. 

This page was the perfect opportunity to remind students about what good readers do -- good readers think while they are reading. 

As I read this page, I heard so many students say, 

"What?" 
"Why?" 

which is exactly what I thought, 

"Why did they need 21 pink balloons?" 

The students shared some predictions and we moved along. In every class that I read the book there was a collective, "Aha! So THAT'S what those balloons were for!" The students also quickly noticed how the fishing poles were used (so many little things to appreciate in this book).

But wait, this image needs more time to explore, Sadie's words are met with a look of fear and shock on Sherman's face. I asked my students why and heard some interesting reasons, among which was the concern that they would eat Ellsworth for dinner. Very clever, Philip Stead, very clever. 
(I didn't take a photo of this, but one of the monkeys has been left behind and my students laughed out loud at the reactions of the monkeys. One of the many snippets I had fun acting out.)

Here's our wayward monkey making his way out on the umbrella, note those not rescuing the monkey seem concerned about the whale, but not Sadie.
Nothing will deter her from her quest. 
I don't want to spoil the whole book, trust me, there's much more to discover when you read it, like the messages those balloons spell at the end. As you might guess though, Ellsworth gets rescued.
But wait! That wasn't the end. The end surprised me! After seeing Ellsworth safely ensconced in his new home, with food and friends a plenty, Sherman and Sadie consider what to do about Little Amy Scott.
This isn't how I expected Sadie to react to Sherman's question. Sadie is a more empathic and caring person, how could she not want to help Little Amy Scott? And how does Sherman feel about her answer? He went out of his way to say hello to her during the balloon scene. 

I have so many questions! 

Maybe that's the point. 

Maybe Philip Stead wanted us to stop and think more deeply and honestly.

I wonder if Philip Stead wanted us to see Sadie as human as the rest of us and capable of the same feelings -- including letting Little Amy Scott live with the consequences of her actions. 

I asked my students what they would have done, and their responses sounded like this:

"I would tell Little Amy Scott that she should more nicely say 'no thank you' to a gift."

"I think Little Amy Scott got what she deserved."

"I would tell Little Amy Scott to just say thank you and then give the gift to someone else."

"I would help her to be nicer."


Brilliant. 
Funny.
Wonderful. 
Thought Provoking.
Worthy of reading to all grades. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~

After reading the book, the students had a chance to share proper names for fish (above) as well as ways they take care of others (one of our school rules).  How do my students help others, like Sadie helped Ellsworth?

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher along with an activity kit, which is not yet available on their Website, but hopefully will be.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Duck and Goose inspires inquiry in Kindergarten

Today the Kindergarten students and I read Duck and Goose by Tad Hills. I love reading this book aloud. It's so much fun to act out the scenes with Duck and Goose. This book is not only a fabulously fun read aloud, it is a great way to build a bridge between neighborhoods in the library for these young students. We are wrapping up our initial exploration of the Picture Book Neighborhood and getting ready to open up a new neighborhood - the Wonder Wall or Nonfiction Neighborhood. The place to go to answer your wondering questions.

After reading and laughing about Duck and Goose, I share that I am wondering if duck and geese are friendly with each other in real life.
I also share that I love the illustrations but wonder aloud if ducks have orange beaks and geese have black and yellow beaks.I then ask the students if they have wondering questions about ducks and geese. Let me tell you, they do. I've taught a version of this lesson before and it is astounding what deep thinkers these five-year-old students are. Inquiry comes so naturally to them.

Here's what my students were wondering today:
Why do they walk?
Why do they have webbed feet or stuff between their toes?
How do ducks lay eggs?
Why are ducks so similar to geese?
Why do ducks waddle when they walk?
Why do ducks have black eyes?
Why do they have black on them?
Why do they walk on the islands?
Why do they have feathers?
Why do ducks have sharp beaks?
How do ducks go to the bathroom?
Where do ducks sleep?
Where do they eat?
Where do they put their eggs when it is cold, very cold?
Where do ducks play?
Where do they find things?
What kind of water do they swim in?
Where do ducks swim?
Where do they play?
Where do they find food?
Are geese and duck friends?
Do geese make louder noises than ducks?
Where do ducks come from? How do they get alive?
Why do geese honk louder and ducks quack softer?
Do they have the same kind of feet?
Are ducks smaller than mice?
Why do ducks fly?
Why do ducks swim?
Why are geese white?
Why do ducks have green on them?
Why do they have so much yellow?

Next week, we'll be trying to answer these questions with books from our Wonder Wall.

According to my students, this is what our School Rules look like and sound like in the School Library

The first few weeks of school are spent establishing rules and creating routines. Given that I see about 520 students each week, I have streamlined this process slightly. I adopt our all school rules as our library classroom rules and then have the students share what living by each of those rules looks like and sounds like in our space. 
Each week, we read a book that helps start a discussion around one of the rules. The students then discuss and share their ideas for what it looks like (the actions they will take) and sounds like (the things they will be saying). I then condense all the student responses into common themes and ideas. 

This year, I had a parent help design the poster and went to the expense of getting them printed. They just arrived. and I am in love with them. I am so excited to have these posters hanging in our library reminding all of us of our school rules and guiding all of us on our learning journey. 

As part of our Responsive School Library Program, I plan to use their language to reinforce expected behaviors, like: "Students are showing that they know how to take care of each other by using kind and encouraging words." Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

ReedALOUD: Her Right Foot

I got emotional the first time I read Her Right Foot with students, and as a testament to the powerful message in this book, I felt equally as emotional when I shared it with the eighth and final class this week. This book is a call to action and my students and I are inspired to heed that call. 

Dave Eggers conversational approach quickly engaged my students and kept them tuned in until the end.  Facts about the Statue of Liberty are sprinkled with humor that elicited the appropriate chuckles along the way. Her Right Foot is a reminder of our history as a nation and a call to ensure that this monument to liberty is able to fulfill her role as welcomer to those who come to our shores. We are a nation of immigrants and the multicultural landscape represented in the art reminds us of this history. The art created by Shawn Harris is evocative and powerful, yet also matches Eggers' humorous moments. The mixed media collage brings additional depth to moments both serious and light.  

These collage figures feel somehow more alive and active.

Here you can see how effective Eggers' conversational approach engages the reader. I enjoyed playing up the fibbing aspect.

I love that this Parisian is not impressed or affected by that looming statue.

A perfect marriage of narrative and art. The students loved the body language of these French workers and the absurdity of the task.

My students appreciated the new science knowledge here. Harris' art is so interesting here. The collage, color, and way the art spills beyond the art makes it all feels more three dimensional and real.


I love this spread. Enough said.

And here, Eggers received the laugh he hoped for and deserved. They completely connected with his humor. These two pages, with their absence of art draw the reader into a space that feels intimate, almost like we are leaning in to hear better.


This moment of zeroing in on her right foot begins the shift in the narrative, from conversationally informative to thoughtful ponderance.


Once more. Love this. Enough said.

Eggers invites readers to wonder why she is on the move, and after exploring theories and facts, offers this reminder.




You're emotional too, right? 

This book is a call to action to help others. I used it as a way to get students talking about one of our school rules: taking care of others. I reminded the students that we are a community of learners, but more than that we are a community of diverse learners and a diverse community of learners. I asked them, "What action will you each take to ensure that our community is a welcoming, safe, and comfortable space for all learners? What will it look like and sound like when you are taking care of others?"

Here are some of their responses.





















~~~~~~
On having dinners in interesting spaces
A cool connection that I made the first time that I read the book, and which I shared with my students, is this idea of having dinners in sculptures. In 1853 or 1854, about thirty years before Bartholdi held his dinner in the Statue of Liberty while she was being constructed, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins held a dinner in his partially constructed dinosaur. You can read more about that meal in The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins.